Truck attacker ploughs through crowd in French city, kills 84

Truck attacker ploughs through crowd in French city, kills 84

Tunisia-born driver shot dead; Hollande calls it terror attack

Truck attacker ploughs through crowd in French city, kills 84

An attacker ploughed a truck into crowds celebrating Bastille Day in Nice along the French Riviera, killing at least 84 people.

President Francois Hollande called it a terrorist act by an enemy determined to strike all nations that share France’s values.

The driver, identified by police sources as Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel, also appeared to open fire before officers shot him dead. Lahouaiej-Bouhlel, a 31-year-old Tunisian resident of Nice,  was known to the police in connection with common crimes such as theft and violence but was not on the watch list of French intelligence services, sources said.

The third mass killing in Western Europe in eight months caused more fear across an already anxious continent struggling with security challenges from mass immigration, open borders and pockets of Islamist radicalism.

The truck zigzagged along the seafront Promenade des Anglais in the city of Nice as a fireworks display marking the French national day ended on Thursday night.

It careered into families and friends listening to an orchestra or strolling above the beach on the Mediterranean Sea towards the grand, century-old Hotel Negresco.

Bystander Franck Sidoli said he saw people go down. “Then the truck stopped, we were just five metres away. A woman was there, she lost her son. Her son was on the ground, bleeding,” he said.

Dawn broke on Friday with pavements smeared with dried blood. Smashed children’s strollers, an uneaten baguette and other debris were strewn about the promenade. Small areas were screened off and what appeared to be bodies covered with blankets were visible through the gaps.

The truck was still where it had come to rest, its windscreen riddled with bullets.“I saw this enormous white truck go past at top speed,” said Suzy Wargniez, a local woman aged 65 who had watched from a cafe on the promenade. “It was shooting, shooting.”

After visiting victims at Nice’s Pasteur hospital, Hollande said about 50 people were still critical. The dead included many children. At least two Americans and one Russian were among those killed.

Early indications were that the attack was the work of a lone assailant. Tunisian security sources said the suspect had last visited his hometown of Msaken, about 120 km south of Tunis, four years ago. He was married with three children, and was not known by the Tunisian authorities to hold radical or Islamist views.

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